I’m still a little unclear of the difference between a fruit crumble and a crisp. In all honesty, I had only heard of a crisp since living in America and mostly in the form of a blueberry crisp which I imagined was a thin layer of blueberries topped with lots of crumble mix baked until golden. The perfect balance of fruit and crumble because I love lots of crumble. Well it wasn’t until this trip over to the east coast that I had my first Blueberry Crisp at Cape Cod and it wasn’t all I had hoped so I made one as soon as I got home to match my expectations. Oh yum, yum, yum. Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream this is a perfect dessert that requires very little ingredients and very little kitchen utensils.
My kitchen has been pared down to a bowl, a pot, a frypan and a baking tray which my neighbour has lent me plus a wooden spoon, measuring cup, rolling pin, tongs, small chopping board and a steak knife. I bought a couple of foil trays as well. We went on a wonderful holiday and returned back to Colorado on a flight that was very delayed due to storms which had us land at 2am. Then the next day, on very little sleep, we focused on packing and deciding what we need to keep for our last few weeks in the USA plus what we will need when we arrive back in Australia for the last of winter while we wait for the shipping container to arrive.
Now we are living very simply with air matresses for beds, a couple of side tables for eating off and a sofa that, once again, our lovely neighbour has lent us. So I’m a little restricted in what I can make but so far we have been just fine and it is an eye opener to see I actually don’t need most of the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. We have had poached chicken in a coconut broth with a crunchy Asian salad, spicy pinto beans and tortillas, pizza, fennel and chilli pasta with pangritata and last night I roasted a beef tri-tip (is tri-tip called something else in Australia? I’ve only seen it here in the USA) With the foil trays it is easy to throw in some blueberries and top with the crumble mix so we will have to make the most of the blueberries in season and make this a few more times as I have never seen such cheap blueberries anywhere before.
It has taken me quite a few days to recover from the hectic couple of days of packing and moving but we are now focused on making the most of our time here. The kids have a few more weeks left of swim club and the girls and I are having horse riding classes and getting more familiar with the basic care that horses need. Joel’s parents have promised to get Tilly a horse to keep on their farm up at Millaa Millaa in Far North Queensland, so I want the girls to learn as much as they can even though they won’t be able to see the horse too often but hopefully regularly enough. Levi is just wanting to get on the quad bike at their farm again and Elliott, no doubt, will be keen to see all the heavy machinery that his Grandad sells. He really wants to ride the quad bike by himself but that just isn’t going to happen for quite a few more years.
Our trip over to east coast started with a few days in New York and it was hot and humid. I haven’t felt humidity for so long so it was a bit of a shock and the city felt so different from our last trip when it was snowing and just a couple of weeks out from Christmas. But we loved it! Central Park was so lush and green and we made plenty of time to explore it. We took the kids to Greenwich Village which we love and had cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery and took their photo outside the house that was used as the exterior shots of the Huxtable house in The Cosby Show. We have been watching one episode of The Cosby Show a week on Monday nights for the last year which is such a hit with the kids so it was fun to go and see the house. We also stopped in at the Google office in Chelsea for lunch and it was brilliant. There can’t be too many workplaces that have a big space dedicated to playing Lego or scooters parked around the building so Googlers can fast track their way around the office. Below is the incredible view from the Google balcony.
Our time in New York was so short and I didn’t get to go and see everything I wanted but we did go to Co. for pizzas on our last night. A storm had just broken out and the restaurant was pumping but there was one round table for 6 right near the window that we were taken to and we were looked after so well. Our waitress noted Joel’s Colorado Buffs T-shirt and it turns out she too is from Boulder and her parents live quite close to us. The pizza bases weren’t my all time favourite but the toppings were incredible and some of the combinations were inspiring so I’m excited to try and replicate them.
We went to The Guggenheim and the American Museum of Natural History which was fantastic. The kids had just watched Night at the Museum a few days earlier so it was fun to spot some of the exhibits at the AMNH that featured in the film but that aside, there was just so much to see at the museum. Incredible exhibits and I’m not even sure we saw half of what was on display.
Our next stop was Cape Cod and we stayed in the sweetest little town, Chatham. We were quick to get ourselves some fresh lobster rolls and fish and chips and a massive bottle of Cape Cod Beer and head to the beach. It had been a very long time since we had been to the beach and it was such a breath of fresh air after New York. The beaches are so different to Australia but so pretty with the long wavy grass, the distinctive Cape Cod houses and all the calm inlets. It didn’t take long until a fog rolled in and we couldn’t see out to the ocean but the kids had a good, long swim while we sat back and enjoyed the odd sip of beer with a few passerbys stopping to inquire what style Cape Cod beer we had chosen.
Hurricane Arthur was threatening off the coastline and there had been talk that the 4th of July parade in Chatham might be cancelled but it wasn’t, however the fireworks were postponed. The weather held off for the parade and we joined the crowds to line the main street in Chatham to watch and catch some of the lollies and ice-blocks (candy and popsicles!) that were being thrown at the spectators. We were bombarded with red, white and blue and all-American patriotism and we appreciated seeing America celebrate its independence.
One of our neighbour’s friends who is from New York was quite excited to give us recommendations for places to eat at Cape Cod. She said that we could not go to Cape Cod and not try both fried clams and raw clams. So she sent us to Moby Dick’s at nearby Wellfleet where we lined up for a good half an hour to have a clam bake, fried clams and raw clams. The place was packed but by the time we had finished and ready to go the crowds had diminished. I am not an oyster lover so I didn’t know how I would go with raw clams but I found them far more enjoyable. I preferred them over the steamed clams just because the steamed clams were quite sandy. Normally I love steamed clams but I haven’t had sand left in the clams before so other than that negative everything else was fantastic. The fried clams were a hit with the kids and so was the lobster. Friends of ours whom we met up with in Massachusetts said they can get lobsters for as little as $6 a pound but you can still get cheaper in Maine! The clam bake was under $30, I can’t remember exactly, but Joel and I were both amazed at how cheap all the seafood was. We were in seafood heaven.
We spent a day in Boston and our first stop was to have a ride on the swan boats. Tilly had read The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White for school back in California and was really keen to go and see the swan boats. There was quite a long line but it moved quickly and we were kept entertained chatting to a couple from upstate New York whose daughter just hopped on a plane the previous day to go to Australia for a visit. The weather was so much more pleasant than New York and we just loved Boston. So much cleaner and it was so beautiful. Joel noted there was a Google office in Cambridge, right next to MIT where he would love to do further study and so we stopped by to visit the museum at MIT and went for a walk through Harvard. I did not spend near enough time in Boston and want to go back.
Friends of ours from Sydney have been living in Massachusetts for many years and said that we were visiting for the only 2 good months in the year as the snow through winter is so deep and the weather just so unrelentatingly cold. The word is that in summer lots of ice cream shops pop up and we drove past quite a few. Our friend Alison took us to one close by called Cherry Farm Creamery which is one of the only ones open all year round so you can traipse through the snow and eat some refreshingly cold ice cream! But if we were to go back it has been recommended that we go to White Farms Homemade Ice Cream in Ipswich so there is another reason to go back to beautiful Massachusetts.
We really fell in love with Massachusetts with the beaches, the seafood, the ice cream, the beautiful green countryside, the history and it was so good to catch up with Aussie friends. We wanted to scrap our plans for Vermont and just stay put but I’m glad we headed to Vermont as it was equally as stunning. We stayed on a farm, Shearer Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast, where they have a sugaring house for maple syrup and tap about 600 trees each season. I had never put too much thought about the process of maple syrup and it was fascinating to learn and it was hard to envisage the place covered in snow. Our hosts, Patti and Bill, told us that the snow sometimes reaches up to the window sill so they open the window and let their grandkids sled out the window and down the hill! Levi is super keen to come back and help with the sugaring season but it is a long way from Australia.
Patti and Bill were so lovely and made us feel right at home. Some of their lovely teenage grandkids were there and they took our kids off to go and feed the cows. Breakfast was baked apples with ice cream and we spent our days mostly swimming at a nearby lake. Joel pulled out a couple of air mattresses from the car and pumped them up so the kids had rafts to take out on the water. So between the swimming, eating burgers and ice creams and hanging out with the animals, the kids declared Vermont the best part of our holiday. In an odd way this made Joel and I happy at our decision to return to Australia as the whole area felt so similar to the Atherton Tablelands where Joel’s parents’ farm is. The lush green hills and the freshwater lakes. Of course it never snows at Millaa Millaa but there is still a similarity between the tablelands and Vermont in the summer so we can assure kids they will have plenty more holidays similar to our time in Vermont.
Well we crammed in a lot and we hope to have a few more adventures before we fly home. I was a blubbering, crying mess at the thought of moving to America. Not only the thought of leaving so much behind but I was really worried about sending my kids to school in America. I wish I could have had a little peak into the future back then – although I wouldn’t tell myself about the very first school the kids went to in Cupertino where Tilly broke her arm on her second day and the teacher said she was fine and wouldn’t let her go to the school nurse. No that bit was not nice but the school in Los Altos and in Boulder have been brilliant and everywhere we have travelled to has been so fun and most of all we have loved the skiing. When we were all competent enough to ski together as a family it was brilliant. We mostly stuck to blue runs when Essie and Elliott were with us but they tackled a few black runs and those are happy memories. I’m glad I didn’t let my fears and worries stop us from moving here but I’m still unbelievably excited to return home as I really am just a homebody.
3 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chopped
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Lightly grease a baking dish and scatter the blueberries onto the base. Sprinkle over the cornflour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and lemon juice and toss gently together.
In a bowl combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and salt and rub through the chopped butter with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Scatter this mix over the top of the blueberries and bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the crumble mix is golden. Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
It is worthwhile doubling or tripling the crumble mix as it can keep in ziplock bags in the freezer for a last minute dessert.